Future Pope takes the subway in this undated photo. (EPA/EDICIONES B / HANDOUT) Future Pope takes the subway in this undated photo. (EPA/EDICIONES B)

Habemus Papem! We have a Pope! Habemus scaldalum? We have a scandal, possibly. As Eugene Robinson writes, Argentinian media are abuzz with their countryman’s election as Supreme Pontiff — the first non-European Pope. But there’s a smaller buzz surrounding Francis’s conduct in 1976. It’s a super-complicated he-said he-said, and PostScript likes long, convoluted sentences, so get ready for some nice dense Friday afternoon context!

Argentina’s military dictatorship kidnapped two priests for political reasons, and there are accusations and counter-accusations as to what then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio did to help them — or did he even help the junta capture them? At the time he was a Provincial Superior, according to Wikipedia, which is, according to Wikipedia, “a major superior of a religious institute acting under the institute’s Superior General and exercising a general supervision over all the members of that institute in a territorial division of the order called a province — similar to but not to be confused with an ecclesiastical province made up of particular churches or dioceses under the supervision of a Metropolitan Bishop.” PostScript is including this because she loves anyone who writes sentences longer and more convoluted than she does.


Robinson, a former Post foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires, mostly just raises questions. His account makes Francis look less than noble, but he also concludes, interestingly, that Bergoglio “did what he could,” which would seem to settle it. What more can we be expected to do than what we can? It belies Robinson’s apparent hope that Bergoglio will start his papal period by atoning.

Enough PostScript. What did everyone else think?

AnnsThought doesn’t hold clergy to a political standard:

On the one hand, we argue that the Church should stay out of politics, and on the other hand we argue that the Church should do more to intervene when government is bad. The purpose of the Church is to serve as a place of worship, to evangelize, and to do good works in the name of God. This new Pope came out of the gate with the pronouncement that he expects the Church to revolve around Christ. That’s a good fresh start.

billwilson18041 seconds that:

While we still connect the dots where killings were the rule it seems we can understand that our new Pope did as much as the best of us could hope under the circumstances.

Billx99 does hold clergy to political standards, and namedrop a really, really high standard at that:

Wrong. Oscar Romero did all that could be expected. This guy played CYA.

Oscar Romero was murdered for opposing the El Salvadoran government, though, which makes him unavailable to be nominated Pope.

And billwilson18041 counters that a symbol — even a symbol murdered while saying mass — isn’t as useful to dissenters as a place to hide:

Romero was the best representation of what Christ was. But God only knows if more were saved by the actions the now-Pope took.

YondCassius agrees. Helping these priests would have left Bergoglio and others without protection:

If the ‘dirty war’ was as vicious as Mr. Robinson says, then it would seem that any serious action against it by Bergoglio would probably have resulted in some sort of vicious repression and thus his inaction can probably be excused on the basis of reasonable prudence. Thus, ‘case opened AND closed’ — by Mr. Robinson himself.

reasonableconservative thinks Robinson has changed his mind about the place of religion in politics:

Gosh, Eugene. Either the church is too involved in people’s lives or it’s not involved enough. You keep moving the goal posts. What do you want?

greydawg blames Robinson for the whole story, which PostScript would not include except that it is basically the same response to the scandal that the Vatican offers:

Every time I think Robinson can’t sink any lower, he does just that. If he were honest, he would admit that his only verifiable complaint against the new pope is that he did not support “liberation” theology, and that makes him anathema to hardcore leftists like Robinson. But that’s not an indictable crime, so Robinson is willing to accept the irresponsible accusation of a couple of left wing bomb throwers as fact.

Or, as the Vatican put it, the accusations are the work of “anti-clerical left-wing elements to attack the church [that] must be decisively rejected.”

The kidnapped priest who is still alive is being really enigmatic about the whole deal, saying from his seclusion in Hungary he’s “in peace” with Pope Francis. From a dense-context standpoint, this story is turning into a blockbuster.